Removal of Rufaro Stadium turf starts in March

Lovemore Lubinda

Work on the removal of  Rufaro stadium artificial turf will begin in March 2017.

The Harare City Council resolved to avail the sum of approximately US$50 000 to level the pitch by the director of works and related works to facilitate the planting of natural lawn grass at 35 000 seater Rufaro Stadium after the removal of Artificial Turf in time for the commencement of the 2017 football season.

The Acting Director of Housing and social development Retired Major Matthew Marara recommended the removal of the turf as it is said to have outlived its lifespan and council was not able to rejuvenate it in the short term due to unavailability of funds.

The turf is said to have become hard, brittle, slippery and dangerous to football players some of them who are sustaining injuries.

Marara reported that Premier League football clubs and the Zimbabwe national senior soccer team have also condemned the artificial turf at Rufaro Stadium.

In Meetings held with the director of Housing and Social Development in May and 2016, relevant sports bodies like the Sport and Recreation Committee, Zimbabwe Players Union, Grounds Inspection Committee and the Senior Men’s team National Coach had also condemned the artificial turf at Rufaro Stadium and called for its replacement with natural grass.

It was further argued that more professional players, the world over, prefer playing on artificial grass to artificial turfs which were meant for desert conditions.

Clubs using the stadium had relocated to the National Sports Stadium at the beginning of the 2014 season due to the poor state of the turf thereby depriving council of potential revenue from the hire of the ground.

The artificial turf was erected in 2008 through the ZIFA-FIFA Goal Project and city of Harare partnership.

The turf was installed for easier maintenance and its environmental friendliness.  Rufaro’s synthetic turf called Extreme Turf, is supposed to be restored after every 3 years but that has not been the case at the city stadium that could have led to its deterioration.